Little Nothings: Uneasy Happiness
Written & Illustrated by Lewis Trondheim
Translated Joe Johnson
Published by NBM
Trondheim’s comic diary remains a true comic treat. Each page acts as a stand-alone observation on life, as seen through the mildly sardonic, self-deprecating prism of one of the world’s best cartoonists.
In the third collection of Little Nothings, Trondheim continues his world traveling, hitting Angoulême, Fiji and Italy (Florence and Venice, specifically) and wry observations on life. Exhibiting the same hypochondria and view of the world through geek-tinged glasses that marked previous strips, Trondheim continues to find small pleasures in a world of sharks, poverty and other problems bigger than him.
A handful of strips seem to suffer slightly from culture divide, but Trondheim’s brilliance lies in his ability to uncover the undeniable humanity in himself. He remarks how old friends are getting on, only to reflect that he must be getting on as well. He obsessively sets his luggage locks to zeroes; he’s astonished by his own optimism and theorizes over the evolution of suppositories. Every success is offset by a self-loathing criticism, and every failure is countered by a sense that tomorrow offers more opportunities.
Watercolor adds an element of soft and human reflection to each strip, a lightness suited to Trondheim’s easy-going observations. His anthropomorphic figures are well designed, easy to recognize, and subtly expressive. Trondheim erases divides such as nationality or race, leaving us with the interactions and observations of a duck-man. His panels, lacking borders, spill out into the world, enforcing the reality of his observances. It’s just great art, perfectly suited for his deadpan delivery, yet sufficiently emotive to carry the most subtle emotion.
Lewis Trondheim is one of the world’s most respected and acclaimed cartoonists. Little Nothings remains his most personal work, a collection of observations and personal outlooks, self-effacingly and ironically (litter is better when it’s biodegradable!) hilarious. So long as Trondheim continues creating work as strong as Uneasy Happiness, the comics world will be a bright place.